§ Mr. Peter Walker
As foreshadowed in the written reply which I gave on 8 August to my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd), the Government have been giving further consideration to the price of liquid milk. Because of the urgent need to meet continuing increases in the costs of production, processing and distribution resulting from such factors as higher energy costs and wages, they have concluded that the maximum retail price should be increased by 1½p per pint on 4 January 1981. From that date the maximum price of ordinary pasturised milk will be 18½p per pint. This will result in a partial recovery of the costs that have taken place.
The Government have also considered the level of the wholesale price, and, following discussions with the two sides of the dairy industry, have decided that as from 1 January 1981 the maximum wholesale prices should be set at the following levels:
p per litre England and Wales (except London) 16.860 London 15.223 Scotland 16.860 Northern Ireland (except Belfast) 16.860 Belfast 16.769
This means that the additional income from the increased retail price in the period to 31 March 1981 will be divided equally between dairy farmers and distributors.
The Government are now considering the implications for liquid milk prices of the recommendations on the costing system put forward by Binder Hamlyn, and have arranged meetings with interested organisations. They will announce their conclusions at the earliest opportunity, but they would in any case hope that it will be possible to avoid any further increase in the retail price for some considerable time to come, and thereby introduce a greater measure of stability in the market for liquid milk.
Orders giving effect to these new prices will be laid before Parliament shortly.